The National Academy of Sciences has published voluntary guidelines to govern therapeutic cloning and embryonic stem cell research. Unsurprisingly, they don’t offer much in the way of limitations. For example, the NAS would permit biotechnologists to create embryos–either naturally or through cloning–solely for the purpose of research. (Remember when ALL scientists wanted was access to leftover IVF embryos due to be destroyed anyway?) The only acts the NAS suggests not be done “at this time” are: 1) Research on embryos beyond 14 days of development or the development of the primitive streak; 2) Placing human embryonic stem cells into primate embryos or other species stem cells into human embryos; and 3) Permitting animals that have had human embryonic stem cells introduced into their systems to breed.
That’s about it. Oh, there is talk of having Institutional Review Boards monitor the research and all that blather. But that is no protection at all since the IRBs would be made up of scientists and others committed to moving human cloning research forward.
The media didn’t pay as much attention to these guidelines as they usually do in such cases. Perhaps even they know that this is just a PR gambit to give the appearance of control when the real watchwords of the day are “anything goes.”